This Delhi defeat will hit the BJP hard, say analysts

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A defeat in the Delhi assembly elections, as was predicted by exit polls, is now bound to hit the BJP hard and shatter the aura of invincibility of the party.

Although the Bharatiya Janata Party has declared that the Delhi outcome cannot be considered a referendum on Modi’s government, few think that it won’t dent his or the ruling party’s shine. The results of the fiercely contested election for the 70-member Delhi assembly are already clear.

New Delhi: Delhi in-charge of BJP Prabhat Jha, Delhi BJP chief Satish Upadhyay, BJP's chief ministerial candidate for Delhi Kiran Bedi during a review meeting in New Delhi, on Feb 8, 2015. (Photo: IANS)

Most exit polls released after Saturday’s polling said the Aam Aadmi Party of Arvind Kejriwal would win. Since, the exit polls have converted in a landslide victory for AAP, the BJP now needs to reconsider its election strategy for the next rounds of state elections.

Political analyst Aswini K. Ray says that with the BJP losing the Delhi battle, its perceived invincibility under Modi will be undermined.

“This routing says that the Modi government is not invincible. These results should have a major impact across the country.”

A former professor of political science at the Jawaharlal Nehru University, Ray said this BJP defeat would be a personal blow to the party’s president Amit Shah, considered a master election strategist.

Veteran journalist and former diplomat Kuldip Nayar agreed. He said it was the BJP which made the election a kind of referendum on the Modi government by splashing his photograph and appeal to voters all over the capital. Now that the AAP has defeated the BJP, the BJP needs to re-visit its strategy.

As a former Kejriwal colleague in the anti-corruption movement of Anna Hazare, Bedi’s selection was tipped to be a “masterstroke”. In retrospect, the BJP sources say, the move failed to click with voters.

The BJP will realize that a Congress-mukt Delhi is working to its disadvantage, because the city has been handed over to the AAP, which, like Congress, has a Left-of-centre outlook.

In its maiden election December 2013, the AAP stunningly won 28 seats compared to 31 of BJP and formed a government with Congress backing after a hung assembly. The AAP government resigned after 49 days.

The AAP has made promises to provide cheap water and power but it will have to find resources to meet the expectations of the electorate.

If AAP fails to deliver now that they are in power, the law of diminishing returns will set in after a few months. Criticism will be much more than what Modi faced till now (in eight months).

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